11.–12.06.2025 #polismobility

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Mobility concepts as a success model for everything?

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If you ask experts from transportation planning, they are usually enthusiastic. The scientific community is also pleased about mobility concepts (MoKos), because they allow new things to be tested and evaluated. Municipalities are hoping for a step toward a change in traffic patterns. But what are the views of developers and investors? Is a mobility concept a new gold mine or rather a time-consuming obligation in the approval process?

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First of all, mobility concepts stand for a paradigm shift in municipal urban land use planning: From a primarily sustainable perspective, the meaningfulness of building is questioned. And so those who wish to build must prove by means of a mobility concept that their building project will not create any further traffic problems or unecological/anti-social follow-up investments. New construction should prove to be a partial component of a politically desired mobility turnaround. A look at planning practice in the USA shows: The topic could gain further importance in the future. Here, MoKos are already more common.

Just a few years ago, things were different here in Germany. A simple parking space certificate was sufficient. So what is new and why is a MoKo better?

Mobility research has not yet come up with a clear answer or even a binding set of rules. There is still a lack of data that clearly and unambiguously prove which measures are effective and which are fashionable, nice to have or a bad investment: Is it really enough to replace car parking spaces with cheaper parking areas for micromobility? Will this make people change their mobility behavior? Or is it more likely to create new frustration and chaos, as people then simply park their vehicle somewhere else or a few streets away? Is sharing the new magic bullet? For what? Do the young, who will be few in the future, or the long-lived old have other mobility cultures that we have paid too little attention to so far? Does every developer also have to become a mobility service provider at the same time? Who benefits from sharing, pooling or riding?

Good MoKos have a Plan B

Not everything that is propagated today as "new mobility" actually delivers on its promise. Sharing, rental bikes, e-charging stations and mobility stations were hip ten years ago, but research now evaluates their impact rather soberingly. So you don't have to drive every cow through the village or every mobility idea through the underground parking garage.

Good mobility concepts differentiate and are broadly based. You have a plan B if, for example, the energy policy develops differently than assumed at the time of development or if demand or vehicle fleets change. Parking areas for micro-, macro-mobility and digital add-ons should be dimensioned in such a way that one remains flexible and can easily (without costs) re-equip and adapt later. A good mobility concept examines what can really bring about a gain in travel time in a specific case and thus be accepted with pleasure by the later users.

Good MoKos think spatially differentiated

Research has not yet come up with a model concept, because there can be no such thing as a universally valid model. A mobility concept for a location in an urban area makes different statements than one in a suburban or rural area. Sometimes the focus is on work trips, while elsewhere leisure traffic must be taken into account. Or one has to take a closer look at the environment with an affinity for mobility. Doing without an expensive underground parking garage can be exactly right, i.e. economically and sustainably. Elsewhere, however, it may be a mistake that is difficult to recover from later. In case of doubt, securing a flexibly usable area (interim use) under building law would be more open to the future. First, this back-up area is used for popular sports or stacked vegetable gardens in plant containers. Later, a parking shelf or additional construction field can be built there. Good planning does not limit, but keeps possibilities open.

Good MoKos ensure WIN-WIN-WIN

Investors pursue different interests than the public sector or the many different people in a city. It makes no sense to look for the lowest common denominator, to try to convince the other side of one's own point of view, or to try to pull the wool over the eyes of the other side. A mobility concept is only good if the different ways of thinking are brought to a synthesis. People exchange ideas, listen to each other, and thus create something that is actually better because mobility is really thought out intelligently, i.e., in a way that is tailored to fit, sustainable, and open to the future. The goal is only achieved when what is planned at the table becomes an absolute hit in reality.

Qualifying good MoKos

Good mobility concepts are one way of qualifying new construction by answering the question of parking space verification a little more cleverly than through a stiff standard key. This facilitates tomorrow's mobility and - if done well - can also make a teeny-tiny contribution to climate protection in certain locations.

Good MoKos should simply be made once in a while

However, the importance of MoKos should not be overestimated. They are not a magic bullet for sudden improvements in safety, efficiency, equity or even globally measurable climate protection. They have the charming potential to enable municipalities to transfer some of the tasks of transport planning to private companies, which can then turn them into lucrative business models in the form of mobility service and parking management systems.

It is not a bad thing if a MoKo fails or does not materialize. But for the really big strategic tasks of transportation planning, we need other instruments. So no stress. Just get together and do it.

Prof. Dr. Stefanie Anna Bremer

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is a professor for integrated transport planning at the University of Kassel and a consultant - among others for the urban and transport planning office orange edge, which develops various mobility concepts for construction projects in cities or on an international level. The orange edge office has already received several awards for its work. In research, Stefanie Bremer and her team develop methods for the evaluation or assessment of transport planning measures.